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Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on 2010

As Brad and I are ringing in the New Year, we reflect on some of the moments of 2010 that were memorable. 

Our year started off kind of slow, but it was rather entertaining.  I made some new friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life.  We have each had some changes in our professional lives as well.  I have continued to excel in school and Brad has been offered a wonderful new work opportunity.

The summer brought my sister and her family to Summerville.  We had some fun times with the Cousino clan including Benjamin and Madeline's birthdays, the fourth of July, and many more.

Brad and I spent a week in Florida with the Elkins clan at the Orange Lake Resort we visit annually.  We also took a little side trip to Hilton Head Island with my sister Christine, and Tracy and the kids.

August brought two additional members to the Elkins' family.  Brad's sister Michele married her fiance Mat, and that brought us Mat's son Donovan.

The Gamecocks won the SEC East championship and had a great season.  They beat a number one team - Alabama, and won their rivalry game against Clemson.  I even learned a thing or two about football.  The Gamecocks baseball team won the national championship. 

We finished off the year with a great holiday season. 

We are both looking forward to all the good that the New Year will bring.  2010 wasn't a bad year, but I have a feeling that 2011 will be even better!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions

Around this time every year, a lot of us start thinking about our New Year's Resolutions.  Well, I am making a change to that for myself and just setting some general resolutions.  I feel like having a "New Year's" Resolution restricts you to accomplishing that goal in just that coming year.  Maybe I've been missing the point all these years and finally getting it now, but I feel like making a decision to make a change in your life is a great feat in itself and you should allow yourself however much time appropriate to complete that task.

Some things I've been thinking about, in no particular order:
  • Become more involved with my Faith
  • Take some time to relax every once in a while
  • Dedicate myself to my school work and complete my bachelor degree
  • Improve my health and physical well-being
  • Cook dinner more
  • Try to do something for someone else each day, no matter how big or how small, it might mean a lot more to them than I think, so it's always worth it
  • Communicate more with my family
  • Make my own greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
  • Be more frugal with our money, work out a budget and stick to it, keep building our savings account
  • Take a trip somewhere and be a tourist with my husband
Some of these things can easily be accomplished in the new year, but others may take a while longer.  I think the important thing is that we make the decision to do these things.  That's the first step.  Of course it's easy to say that you're going to do something, but to decide to do it is the challenge.  I've decided.

Happy Birthday Brad!

I would have posted yesterday but we were too busy!

Brad turned the big 3-0 yesterday! He was off work and had a nice day shopping with his gift cards and then dinner out with family.  We went to Wild Wing Cafe with Jeff, Eric, Brandi, and Stan.  I got a sampler with nuggets and Brad got a sampler with wings, so we have plenty leftover for lunch today! 

If you like wings and haven't been to Wild Wing, you must go.  They have a bunch of different sauces and they're so good!! I chose Ginger, Wild West (ranch), Honey Mustard (my favorite), Loco Bueno (honey-lime cilantro - first time I've tried this one and it was delicious!), and The General (a twist on General Tso Chicken - orange flavor).  They were yummy and I can't wait to eat the leftovers! I can't remember the flavors that Brad got, he goes for more of the spicey sauces.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

S-N-O-W!

On Sunday, December 26th, it snowed all day long!! Twice in one year!! I was so excited to see it.  This picture was taken out my back door, through the glass.  Unfortunately it had rained Christmas night so the ground was wet and the snow didn't start to stick until the evening, and there wasn't enough at that point to really accumulate.  But some did stick and what little of it was left in the shaded areas of our yard was actually still there this morning.  Amazing considering it will be in the upper 60s this coming weekend!

Wonderful Christmas!

Brad and I had a great Christmas! We had a good time with family and friends and we were completely spoiled by all.  After having dinner at home, we went out Christmas night to see the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park, and it was perfect! It would have been better had it not been raining, but there was no traffic getting in and very few people there.  The lights looked very nice and naturally I took a ton if pictures.






I'm pretty impressed with my camera'a ability to take such great pictures of the lights.  There are a few spots here and there because of the rain hitting the lens, but all in all I think the pics turned out great.

In other news, I completed my 2010 Shutterfly photobook and ordered it using the free photobook code I got with the new camera.  So for under $10 (I had to pay for an extra page I wanted to add and shipping) I got my 2010 album! I can't wait to see it!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Camera!

As I previously mentioned, we did Christmas with my parents this past week, on Tuesday night.  My dad made delicious Chicken Parmesan and my mom made some homemade macaroni salad.  It was good! We had apple pie for desert.

We opened presents from Tracy, Chris and the kids, and from my parents.  And I got my camera!!! So excited! It is a Nikon Coolpix L110.  I still have yet to read the instruction book, but I've gotten the hang of some of the regular modes and have been able to take some nice pictures.  Thank you Cousinos for the gift cards and chocolate.  Brad likes his stocking stuffers! Thank you mom and dad for the gift cards, non-winning lottery tickets =), camera, hat, bags, etc... We appreciate it!!

As promised, here are some pictures of our Christmas decorations, taken with my new camera! And some other pics as well!

 These are all pieces of my Department 56 North Pole Series Christmas Village, all lit up finally courtesy of this wonderful lighted cord I found at Home Depot!







 I'll take another picture with the lights on!
 If you sent us a Christmas card, chances are it's in here!
 My Snowbaby and Lennox Messenger of Hope figures.
 I got this snowman one year at the gift exchange at work.  There are lights inside so it fades to different colors, shown above and below is red and blue.  There is also orange and green!

This is a Christmas tree I admired growing up at my Aunt Barbara's house.  She had it up all the time and I always loved it and wanted to play with it.  When I was all grown up, she gave it to me! It's one of my most prized Christmas decorations. 


 Our 2010 Gamecock ornament!
 Me and my baby Daisy holding hands.
 Sleepy Mayo who we are dog-sitting until my parents return from New York.
This is a pretty angel figure my mom has on the mantle above the fireplace.  I was testing out the zoom from across the room on the couch and I just really liked this picture! 
Yummy apple pie desert!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

He got the job! He got the job!

It is official! Brad has got the job working for Napa.  He put in his notice today so his last day will be the 5th! He is so excited and I am so happy for him!! So much of his stress and anxiety will finally be gone.  He'll be getting more money, working normal hours, off on Sunday, it will be great.  I can't wait for him to start!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have you heard?

About the bird?

Last night I was watching TV and the Family Guy episode with the Surfin' Bird song was on and I just couldn't stop laughing.  I think that is my absolute favorite Family Guy episode ever.  It is just too funny.

This morning I called Brad at work and disguised my voice and asked about car parts.  He didn't know it was me.  When he was finished telling me about what I asked for, I said, "by the way, have you heard?"  There was a moment of silence and then he said, "really?" Oh it just made my day!!! I really want to call him back and say "bird bird bird is the word."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Done Christmas Shopping!!

I think completing your Christmas shopping several days before Christmas should entitle you a space in the Guinness Book of World Records.    One year I was done in October, I have no idea how that happened but I am certain it will not repeat itself.  Ever.  I'm still a little awestruck by that feat.

Tomorrow, after work, we will be celebrating Christmas with my parents.  A strange date and time, I know.  But, because they will be in New York for Christmas with my sisters we figured we'd do Christmas together before they left, and they leave Wednesday morning.  We chose Tuesday because we will be dog-sitting while they are gone and we will bring Mayo back with us to save them a trip.  And yes, Mayo has a special present under the Christmas tree! Well actually it is on the counter by the tree because if it was on the floor one of our animals would surely go hog wild over it.  It's nothing fancy, just organic, yes organic, dog treats.  Mayo can't have wheat, beef, and other random things.  And she doesn't play with toys.  Strange, I know.  So we did what we could. 

I am very excited for Christmas day!! I would have liked to have gone up to New York with my family, but we'll save that for another year.  I just love all the craziness of the holidays! Brad and I are having his family over on Christmas day.  We will have dinner, exchange gifts, and then hopefully go to James Island County Park to see the Festival of Lights.  It should be a good time!

Oh and I will take some pictures of my Christmas decorations and post them real soon! I've been so busy I just keep forgetting!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bon Voyage Cous Clan!

Tomorrow my sister Tracy and her family are leaving Summerville and heading to California! Well, first her and the kids are picking up my brother-in-law in Virginia and then they're driving cross country.  They are moving to Monterey, Chris's next station with the Navy.

Yesterday I went by my parents' house and brought Ben and Maddie some going away presents.  I bought them drawing pads, crayons, activity books, a magnadoodle-like pad each, Wooly Willy magnetic plates, and some blank note cards.  The blank note cards have envelopes that I addressed and stamped so the kids can send Brad and I letters and pictures.  I actually got the idea because it's something my eldest sister, Christine, did for me when she went away to college.  I can't wait to see the notes from the kids. 

I'll miss having them so accessable.  California is far away! Ben was actually born in California, and I went to see him there when he was just a few weeks old.  Now he's 8! I am hoping that Brad and I can take a trip to California and see them while they are there. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And yet another A!

I got an A in Spanish 1 and Culture! Yes!! I was really thinking that I would get a B but I guess my grades averaged out better than I had thought.  I don't know my updated GPA stats yet, but I'm hoping that information will be updated tomorrow.  It looks like I'll have a 4.0 for the term and at least stay at the 3.9 cumulative, but possibly go up more! How exciting!! I'll update this post when I get the GPA information!

GPA Update:

My GPA was finally posted! I have a 4.0 for the term and 3.925 cumulative!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

Random thought for the day:

I love the smell of my Christmas tree! Seriously, what could be better than sitting around the house, reading or watching TV, and just smelling the awesome smell that is a REAL Christmas tree?!?! It's that sweet Christmas-y scent! And no matter what kind of spray or candle you buy, it just cannot be duplicated.

I can't believe we waited so long to put it up! Never, ever again will it be more than a week into December when we get our tree!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Decorations, Part III

The tree is finally up and completely decorated! How very exciting!! I will take some pictures in the next couple of days of all the decorations and post.

Oh and while we were at Home Depot getting the tree, I found this awesome little string light set perfect for villages! So I bought two strangs and my village is lit up once again! It looks fantastic.

One more candle and a trip around the sun...

Today is the first day of the last year of my twenties.  I don't feel any different and  honestly I don't think I'll feel different when I turn 30 either.  I know some people would beg to differ, but I really haven't felt any different at any milestone birthdays.  I have three older sisters who I've watched go through them before me, and then my husband who is a year older than me.  I think being able to see them go through it and come out the same is what keeps things in perspective for me.  It's just another year.  No big deal.  I need to dig out my "30 bucket list".  Things I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30.  I might have a lot of work ahead of me this year! Ha ha. 

In 18 days Brad will be 30... yowsers!

Tonight we're going to dinner with my parents, Tracy, and Ben and Maddie.  We're going to O'Charley's and then having Carvel ice cream cake at my house! I can not wait for the cake!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poor Puppy!

Well, our little bad dog got into some stuff! On Wednesday when Brad and I went out to get our Christmas tree, Daisy got onto the kitchen table and ate some of my cream cheese cookies and a bunch of Tootsie Rolls that were left over from Halloween.  She was so sick! She threw up five times that night and once yesterday morning.  I took her to her vet at Banfield yesterday and she had some bloodwork done and some shots.  Her carbohydrates were high, no surprise there!, and she was dehydrated.  She had an injection to help balance out the acidity in her stomach and prevent gas, and she also had fluid therapy.  They injected her with 200 unites of that and it's full of nutrients and stuff to make her well again.  She had a huge lump on the back of her neck at the injection site where the fluid pools until it is absorbed into her system.  She is much more chipper today than she was Wednesday or Thursday, so that's great! She's on a mild diet for the next few days just to keep her tummy settled so no treats! Boo.  Hopefully she's learned her lesson!

Here is a picture of the lump at her injection
site, just below her collar on her back.


And here is our little patient at the vet's office with
eyes that just beg mommy to take her home!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Classes are over!!

I just took my last test of the semester!! I will be off now until January 24th.  I am going to try my best to use some of that time to brush up my Spanish so I can be prepared for my next class.

I have enrolled in two classes for the Spring semester: Forensic Science for the Non-Scientist and Spanish 2 and Culture.  I need to complete four language classes for my degree and I have now completed Spanish 1.  So three more to go! I also need to complete two science classes with labs and this Forensic Science class actually contains the lab element within the three credit course, so it will save me money taking three credits as opposed to taking four.  I hope it is interesting! I love CSI and other crime shows and believe it or not, the description for this class actually references those shows! So I'm thinking I'm right on track.

I'll post my final grade and all that jazz as soon as I get it! Hooray for winter break officially being here!

Cream Cheese Topped Cookies

These cookies are absolutely delicious and always a hit! They're basically a soft sugar cookie with a sort of cream cheese icing and chocolate drizzle.  A great combination of flavors and textures and overall so good! 

I have a hard time making them because when I think about them I want them right now and they are refrigerator cookies, so you have to make the dough and put it in the fridge for at least four hours, but overnight is best.  So you can't have them right away and that is frustrating, but it is worth the wait! A good idea too is to make a couple of batches of the dough at once and freeze the extras so that way you can just whip them out and let them sit for an hour or so and you'll be set.

You will need...

For the cookies:
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1  3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened (30 seconds - 1 minute in the microwave will do the trick p in a bowl though, not the aluminum wrap)
1  1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

For the drizzle:
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter

I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for this recipe as well.  Sometimes the mixer makes the dough too mushy, but since these are refrigerator cookies, they will be firm by the time you're ready to form and bake the cookies.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl mix together the butter, sugar, and shortening until combined.  Then add the egg and vanilla.  Once that is mixed, add in the flour mixture.  The dough will be a little thick, at this point you will roll into two logs about 1-2 inches thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, no more than 24.  You can freeze, too.

Unwrap dough and cut into one inch slices.  Place at least 1 inch apart on cookie sheet and put in 375* oven for 10-13 minutes.  With my oven and my Pampered Chef stoneware, it takes 12 minutes.  When they come out of the oven, immediately make a dent in the top for the topping.  To do this, I use my Pampered Chef Mini-Tart Shaper.  It's just the right size.  Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Combine all the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Drop some of the mix into the dent you've made in the cookies.    Let cookies sit until the topping flattens out.  Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate chips together, I nuke them for a minute or so in my Pampered Chef Small Micro-Cooker and then stir it until it is very smooth.  You can either use something to pipe out the drizzle, or you can use a spoon and drizzle it on top of the cream cheese topping.  If I'm in the mood for perfection (like tonight!), I use my Wilton Decorator Tips to do the drizzle.

These cookies need to be stored in the refrigerator, so if any make it to leftover status, stick them in the fridge!


Piacere!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hurricane Season is Over!

Today is the last day of the Atlantic hurricane season and we made it through another year unscathed! I thought for sure living in the coastal south I'd experience at least one in the past 8 years, but I had more in my 20 years in New York! There were a couple of strong tropical storms in my early years here, but those didn't hit our area bad, mostly just the very edge of the coast.  So I think we should celebrate with a non-hurricane party or something, ha ha.

Christmas Decorations, Part II

The outside lights are up!

Last night I supervised Brad putting up the outside lights.  We lined the house with white lights and did the front door in blue.  We still have a ton of lights left that we are trying to think of something to do with.  I am thinking about putting little candles in the four front windows, electric of course.  I think that would be a nice touch.  One of my little spiral Christmas trees was being a pain in the rump so I set that aside for parts.  Also, the snowflake we hang from the peak in the middle of the house was malfunctioning.  It lit when we tested it but when we hung it and plugged it in it did not want to cooperate.  I am not ready to give up on it just yet, but I couldn't be bothered with it last night.  We're hoping to pick up something new to add to the mix this year but not quite sure what that will be yet.  I'm thinking about either a santa and reindeer, all white, or a snowman.  Something like that.

I will start posting pics once everything is complete! Oh how I love the holidays!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decorations, Part I

Last night, Brad's sister Michele and I put out our Department 56 Christmas village!

Me, her, and her husband Mat got all of the Christmas boxes from the attic (no easy task!).  Since we don't have our tree yet and since it was too late to do the outside lights, some inside decorations were about all we could tackle. 

The village looks great! It is out on the higher kitchen counter like last year.  It fits in that space perfectly.  I kind of wish I could find all the lights so I could maybe light it up this year, but no such luck.  I'm sure I'll find them eventually though.

I put out my Lenox angel, my Snowbaby messenger figure, some other nic-nacs, and Aunt Barbara's Christmas tree.  I have some bathroom hand towels to wash and then I can put those out.  I had some little nic-nacs that I gave to Michele.  They were things that I didn't put out anymore so I figured I would rather give them to someone than either throw them out or keep storing them. 

I think Brad and I might do our outside lights this week, and then hopefully work it into our schedule to get a tree! I cannot wait until everything is complete.  It is kind of nice doing these things in stages instead of all at once because it prolongs the fun of holiday decorating! It's always all over as soon as it has begun, but this way we'll be doing pieces here and there and we can just enjoy it that much more.  Of course I can't wait to see the finished product! And maybe to buy even more stuff!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Carolina beat Clemson!!

Tonight was the rivalry game between the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers.  The Gamecocks won 29 - 7.  Clemson scored a touchdown within the first few minutes and the Gamecocks proceeded with 29 unanswered points! It was a great game, but the second half was kind of slow.

We had the crew over: Michele, Mat, Brandi, Eric, Jeff, Kat, and Cleve.  We had sloppy joes (yum!) and french fries and some chips and cookies and cake for desert.  It was a fun night!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I know I'm a day late, please forgive me!

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family.  Brad and I had an early dinner with my parents', Chris, Tracy, and the kids.  We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli casserole (I made), homemade macaroni and cheese (Brad made), butternut squash, and creamed cauliflower.  It was all so good and I was so full.  For desert we had pumpkin and apple pies and my mom made a jelly cake.  I had the pumpkin pie, it was all I could fit and man did I force it! We had planned to go to Brad's parents' house for a later dinner but I so badly needed my turkey coma, Brad didn't want to wait for me and end up missing his niece, so he went on without me.  He came home with some banana pudding for himself. 

For lunch today I had leftovers.  Yummy! I also had some more pumpkin pie for desert.  Oh how I love Thanksgiving and all the comfort foods of Thanksgiving!!

What am I thankful for this year:
- my husband
- my family
- my pets
- friends
- my job (I can't believe I just said that!)
- my home
- cars (both running fantastically - big change for us!)
- my health
- life
- school

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ode to Potlucks!

Today at work we had a Thanksgiving potluck lunch.  As potlucks often are, it was amazing! We have done this around here a couple of other times, for Christmas, Fourth of July, and just for the heck of it.  What I think makes potlucks so great is the wide variety of food you get to eat! And I love to eat.  You get to sample things you might not otherwise try and other things that you could just never make yourself.  And it is almost always filled with comfort foods! Who doesn't love a good comfort food? Of course now I feel like I need to take a nap, but it was well worth it!

For lunch I had/sampled: fried chicken, ham, turkey cranberry spirals, some kind of bean salad, devilled eggs, potato salad, Greek quiche, dumplings, watergate salad, corn pudding, beef and bean casserole, shrimp, spinach dip, wild rice, and stuffing.  I hope I didn't leave anything out! All that fit on one plate, I swear! And no the plates were not giant sized! They were average-size Chinette plates.  I just had a tiny bit of everything.

Ahem, and for desert I had: applies with a fruit dip and pumpkin pie! I have been waiting all year for some pumpkin pie!!

Oh and my contributions were: potato salad, spinach dip, and wild rice.  I was planning on making something else, but that fell through!

Congrats to Brad!!

I am so happy for Brad because today he was offered a new job! It is one that he has wanted, working for a company he used to work for that recently merged with another company.  I just know this is going to be a great opportunity for him! He is so happy, too.  He probably won't start until the new year because he has to have surgery on his shoulder to repair his rotator cuff.  This is from a work related injury at his current employer, so worker's compensation is taking care of that.  Naturally he is going to wait until that is taken care of before leaving the company.  Hopefully all will go well with the surgery and he will be able to start this new job in January!

Monday, November 22, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

All I can say is, "wow!"  Last night I made the most amazing, melt in your mouth, white chocolate chip cookies.  Even Brad, who believes that if it isn't a regular chocolate chip cookie - it isn't a cookie, thought they were awesome. 

I'm not too crazy about regular chocolate chip cookies, I know I know, that's practically sacrilegious, but I can't help it.  I've just never been super fond of chocolate in baking.  I love to bake so I will bake with chocolate, it's hard to avoid, but if I am baking for myself, I want it to be something that I will eat. 

Last night, when I was just dying for cookies, I remembered that I had white chocolate chips (yum!) and decided to make chocolate chip cookies, subbing out the chocolate chips for white chocolate chips.  Usually people put white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, in fact that's what the recipe was on the bag.  Well I wasn't about to do that! So I made my own concoction. 

If I ever have hopes of selling my baked goods, I know I should keep my recipes secret and not share them with anyone, but I just can't keep something this good a secret! When baking I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and my Pampered Chef Stoneware Large Bar Pan.  The mixer isn't as crucial I guess, but when actually baking the cookies, stoneware cooks foods differently than metal or glass, so if you are not using stoneware, I can't guarantee your cookies will match mine exactly.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside.

2 sticks of butter, softened (leave out at room temperature for about an hour)
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 bag of white chocolate chips, any variety will due

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in mixer (large bowl) until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition.  Gradually add flour mixture, about a quarter cup at a time.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.  I use a little scooper to make perfect little balls of dough.  Bake for 9-13 minutes. 

My cookies take between 12-13 minutes, I take them out just before they turn golden brown.  Different ovens and baking sheets make for different cooking times, so I would recommend setting that first batch at 9 minutes and checking it every minute after until they are done.  Keep an eye on the bottoms of the cookies too! You don't want them to burn.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Playlist!

If you have your speakers on you've realized that I figured out how to add a playlist to the blog! Woohoo!! I'm sorry for those of you who think it's annoying, either pause it or turn off your speakers! I think it's neat.  I tried to add some songs that either Brad or I like, or that we both like.  Red on a Rose was our wedding song!! Enjoy!

Oh I used Playlist!

An Attitude of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches I like to take some time to remember the things that I have in my life and my days that I am thankful for.  At dinner yesterday Brad and I started a little tradition where we talked about what we were thankful for and also something that brightened our days.  There is so much negative in the world, in the media and in our personal lives, and I think it is important to take time to reflect on the good things.  We get so caught up in what's going wrong that we fail to think about what's going right. 

Some of the good in my life is: my amazing husband who would do anything for me, my family who are always there when I need them, my pets who never fail to make me smile, my friends who always know the right things to say...

Things that I am thankful for: I have a wonderful family, a home, all the things I want and need in that home, I have a job, cars, the ability to go to school and the fact that I am doing well...

There are some people out there who have none of those things.  I might not always like what I've got, but at least I have it.  

Working for Catholic Charities has really opened my eyes to the devestation some people out there are experiencing.  People who are our neighbors.  Even before the economy tanked, there were people out there who couldn't afford the gas to make it to a job interview and some who couldn't put food on the table.  As I'm sitting here, winding down from a day at work and about to begin some school work with a full belly, I think about how lucky I am and how awful it must be for those people.  What would I do if I couldn't afford my daughter's insulin medication? If I got an eviction notice or my lights turned off? I'm not sure I'd have the courage to call and ask for help and I have to commend those people for at least doing that. 

I hear people complain a lot about United States organizations collecting funds to donate to disasters in other countries.  Why help them when there are so many people here in the United States who need help? Good point, what are you doing to help? What are you doing to assist people here in the United States who are in need? I know I don't do as much as I'd like and I don't have much to give, but I'm not complaining either.  I do what I can.  I am an animal lover so Brad and I donate some money to the ASPCA.  When I hear about things on the radio, like text X to 12345 to donate $10 for this or for that, I do it.  On Veterans' Day I donated $10 to Fisher House, an organization that houses the family members of military members who are stuck in military hospitals away from home.  When Haiti had the earthquake, I donated $10 to the Red Cross to go towards their relief efforts.  Just by texting.  It's not hard and it just got added to my bill.  $10 isn't a lot of money, but it's something.  Especially to someone who doesn't have it.  We easily spend $10 on a night out at the movies, more if you go out with a group or get snacks. 

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  Corinthians 9:6-7

Another A!!!!!

I am currently attending University of Massachusetts for my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  I have completed my third class at U-Mass and I am happy to say that I've got another A! My cumulative GPA is now sitting at 3.90 and my term GPA is 4.0.  Awesome!! The class I just completed was Child and Adolescent Development and I am still in my Spanish class until December 5th.  I have signed up for two and a half classes for the Spring term.  Spanish 2 (I need four Spanish classes total) and Biology with lab (that's the half).  I am absolutely loving my classes, but I am looking forward to the break between December 5th and January 24th!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Go Gamecocks!!

It was a happy day in the Elkins' household on Saturday! The University of South Carolina Gamecocks clinched the SEC East Championship! So they'll be heading to the championship game in Atlanta on December 4 for the first time ever.  We'd love to get tickets but it appears they are already sold out.  So we're going to have to do some searching here and there to see if anything becomes available.  They kicked some serious Gator butt.  It was a great game, Brad and I were thoroughly entertained watching it.  Next week they play Troy, and the week after that is the rivalry game against Clemson.  Hopefully they'll kick some Tiger butt.  Brad is having company over for the game so it'll be fun. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Squirrel's Mom's Chocolate Cake

Most people who know me know that I don't do chocolate cake.  I can eat the heck out of brownies or a chocolate bar, and I can possibly force myself to eat a marble cake, but plain old chocolate cake is not my thing!

Well, while out at the Halloween Extravaganza, Squirrel's Mom told me that I have got to try the chocolate cake she made, it was so good! Well, I didn't have the heart to make gagging noises at the thought of chocolate cake, so I dutifully tried a small piece.  It was so good!! What's the secret?

1 box of regular chocolate cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin pie filling
1 cup of water

Combine ingredients, pour into cake pan, following baking instructions on chocolate cake mix box.  Do not add eggs or oil.  This is a three ingredient recipe!

When it comes out of the oven, ice it however you'd like.  The cake is so moist and just to-die-for delicious!! I can't wait to try to make it myself!

Halloween Extravaganza

Well, the St. Paul's Academy Halloween Extravaganza has come and gone.  Brad spent months out in the woods working with his brothers to prepare the location and after four short nights it is over.  They did a great job! All the guys worked their butts off and put on a great show night after night!

I didn't attend the first night, I had some friends in town and I babysat our niece, Evelyn.  But Daisy and I went the other three nights.  Daisy was so well behaved it was weird.  She just sat or laid on my lap with her puppy Snuggie on and a blanket.  It was pretty cold the first night I was out there, the next night it was cold but not as cold, and then the last night it was chilly but not too bad.  It might have had something to do with the full moon!

All in all we had a great time.  The food was good as always.  The first night I was out there we had hot dogs, the second night we had Frogmore Stew, and the last night we had pork that was smoked for hours.  Squirrel's mom made an awesome chocolate cake and I don't like chocolate cake but this was good! I'll post the recipe.  She also made this really great macaroni salad! We even had a TV and satellite connection so we could watch the football games.  Go Gamecocks!!

Oh and what Halloween Extravaganza would be complete without celebrating Mom and Dad E's birthdays?! Their birthday is October 24 and it pretty much always falls on the second weekend of the event.  So we always do cake and a card.  The past couple of years I've been baking cup cakes though because it's easier for everyone to grab and go with a cupcake than with cake.  I find that when we do a cake and people have to sit their with a plate and a fork, it rarely gets eaten.  So cupcakes are a smart alternative and they have gone over very well! I can't believe I didn't take pictures though! So out of character for me.

People there: Me, Brad, Mom & Dad E., Jeff, Chris, Eric, Brandi, Michele, Mat, Kat, Liz, Donovan, Cleve, Rey, Joe, Timmy, Squirrel, Squirrel's mom, Julie, Gracie, Geoffrey, Sam, Jennifer, Brandon, Bayleigh, Donnie, Kandace, Aiden, Boo, David, Erynn, Squirrel's sister, her husband and their three kids... and a couple of others who I don't know. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hey there!

I've been wanting to start a blog for myself and Brad for a while now.  I figured it would be a nice place for us to keep a record of some of the more exciting things going on in our lives, to post pictures, and share things with family and friends.  Maybe it will encourage us to start doing some more exciting things!!
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